When Dine Renfors moved into the center of Turku, he came up with an idea on how to save space: a piece of furniture that could be a table by day and a bed by night. This was the beginning of his startup, Tablebed, which has recently landed a one million euro contract in the USA. What does the founder of this successful startup think of Turku as a city for entrepreneurs?
- About the company: Tablebed helps individuals and businesses use their facilities more efficiently with their versatile products.
- Founded: 2017
- Team: 16 (of which 6 are employed full-time)
- Location of the office: HUB Turku coworking space in Turku Old Town.
- Latest achievement: Our latest big achievement is the ongoing opening of the US market with a one million euro contract.
- Random fact: The idea for Tablebed was invented on Ursininkatu in the center of Turku to fulfill a personal need.
I met Dine in the heart of Turku’s Old Town in the co-working space called HUB Turku around the Tablebed. The cozy office room where we meet could be converted into a bedroom in just a few seconds thanks to Dine’s invention, much to the delight of people working here, who can take a comfortable nap during a long day. From here we took a walk in the center of Turku to the very roots of inventing Tablebed. How did Dine come up with this great idea that would turn into his future career?
Why did you choose the center of Turku for our meeting spot?
“We lived in the center of Turku on Ursininkatu when the idea for this product was born. The center of Turku has everything, yet the living space is limited. Our products represent the essence of urban life. There are a lot of functions centralized efficiently in city space and that is exactly what we want to develop as a company. The city center is the environment where our products are especially suitable – why not elsewhere as well?”
“We lived in the center of Turku on Ursininkatu when the idea of this product was born. Our products represent the essence of urban life.”
Working at the HUB co-working space and remotely from Kaarina
Tablebed’s Turku office and postal address are located in the building of the old Rettig factory where the popular co-working space HUB Turku resides. When it comes to working facilities, Dine is happy with his desk, computer, and a working internet connection. And, of course, there is also a Tablebed for customers to admire!
“HUB Turku has a really good location and there is an inspiring atmosphere here. This is more of an alternative place, even a place for artists. I like the atmosphere here and the services work well.”
Indeed, the old Rettig factory will be turned into a center of culture and arts in the coming years. Already now there are some freelance artists in the diverse community of people working at the HUB.
“I like the atmosphere here and the services work well.”
However, nowadays Dine spends only some of his time in the HUB Turku: he lives in the neighboring city of Kaarina, where he works remotely most of the time. After having kids, the family thought Kaarina would be a good option. The nine-kilometer journey from Kaarina to Turku passes in no time by car or bus, and Dine often enjoys this trip by bike as well.
“I really like Kaarina and I am very happy that we moved there. It may be better for families with children. In Kaarina, we can live close to the center and a big playing ground, as well as the seashore.”
What does the Turku region offer to startups and international talents?
Tablebed’s two founding members, Dine and Johan, have lived in Turku for more than ten years, so they have diverse experiences in the Turku startup world. Dine feels that Tablebed has found all the help and know-how it has needed on its journey to becoming an international company.
“Turku has all the services and opportunities. Here, for example, we found good workspaces, a suitable design company to help with product design, and the first investors. I also had the opportunity to talk to Business Finland’s innovation expert in Turku.”
Dine appreciates the services arranged for Turku startups, the accelerator programs, and the startup community SparkUp, where Tablebed had a free office in their early days.
“We started our journey at SparkUp, where we got to use the common areas for free. It was a really big help. SparkUp community also made it easy to find out about the programs and which ones of them would be helpful for our needs.”
“We started our journey at SparkUp, where we got to use the common areas for free. It was a really big help.”
Of course, startup services are not limited to the area where the startup is established. For example, Tablebed took part in an accelerator called the Nordic Startup School, which you can attend virtually from any location.
For international experts who wish to establish a company or join one, Dine considers Turku to be an excellent option on a Finnish scale, as it is one of the largest cities in the country.
“From the perspective of a startup, big cities are better places to start a business than smaller towns because they have help available, contacts, and investors. Startups need all the help they can get and find”.
“Startups need all the help they can get and find.”
“There are good universities and colleges in Turku which means it is easy to recruit students for work and internships. We have also had students in our team, for example in sales. It is cost-efficient for startups and offers students important work experience.”
What kind of products does Tablebed make?
Tablebed helps individuals and businesses use their facilities more efficiently. Tablebed and Tablebed Single enable living in smaller squares and offer companies the opportunity to increase their financial benefits. A good example of the space use is Hotel Valo in Helsinki, which uses Tablebeds.
“There is a bigger Tablebed team in Helsinki these days and we use Hotel Valo as our office there. They are also our customers. They have rooms that are offices during the day and hotel rooms at night. Here the benefits of Tablebed for companies can be seen in practice.”
“They have rooms that are offices during the day and hotel rooms at night. Here the benefits of Tablebed for companies can be seen in practice.”
Today, Tablebed has investors and shareholders internationally, for example in the USA and Luxembourg. Although the core team is a small group of six located in Finland, the products are sold in about 20 different countries and the future outlook is downright dazzling.
“Our latest big achievement is the opening of the US market. It’s happening right now. Container products went there at the end of 2021 and we have signed a million euro contract there. There has been a lot of good stuff happening lately. We have also been granted Business Finland’s NIY (Young Innovative Companies) funding.”
What does Tablebed’s inventor think of Turku as a city?
“Turku is a very cozy and cultural city with a rich history. I really like Turku. Here you will find everything you need, but the city is not too big. In Turku, you can live close to nature but reach the city center in only 15 minutes at the same time.”